And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Tigers 6, Royals 3: Before the season began I said something to the effect of “if I had to bet the lives of my children on the outcome of any division, it would be the Tigers winning the AL Central.” I repeated that line on the radio a bunch of times.  I was sweating it until game 160, but Mookie and Carlo: you’re safe now. Daddy won’t have to give you to the evil gamblers.

White Sox 11, Indians 0: I imagine the beating that Chicago administered to Cleveland felt good for a while, but the Tigers win over the Royals sealed their fate. Hector Santiago shut out the tribe for seven and Dayan Viciedo drove in five, but it’s all over now, baby blue.

Pirates 2, Braves 1; Phillies 2, Nationals 0: That’s about as happy as you’ll ever see a team after they get shut out. The Nats don’t care, they still won the division. And they partied like rock stars too. In some way this is the best reasonable outcome for Atlanta too. Their chance at winning the East was tiny, and by losing on Monday instead of, say, Wednesday, they can be sure to rest the pen and whoever else needs it for the wild card game on Friday.

Athletics 4, Rangers 3: The A’s clinch a playoff spot and with that eliminate the Rays and Angels. Oh, and they move to within one game of the Rangers for the AL West. Because they’re already going to the playoffs no one seems to be talking about Texas woofing the division away. They’ve been in first place since April 9, and had a lead in the division as big as six games as late as August 23.

Yankees 10, Red Sox 2; Rays 5, Orioles 3: Baltimore falls a game back after they get beat by the surging yet, unfortunately for them, now-dead Rays. Meanwhile, the Yankees beat the walking dead Red Sox who possibly had two major leaguers in that lineup last night. In other news, Fernando Rodney was a bit shaky, but he got out of trouble to get his 47th save in 49 chances and lowered his ERA to 0.61. Which is nutzoid.

Cardinals 4, Reds 2: Dodgers 3, Giants 2: The Cardinals clinch at least a tie for the second wild card. They’re winners of 11 of their last 14. Meanwhile, the Dodgers do what they can to stay alive, winning their sixth straight. They need to make it eight, however, and hope for two straight Cardinals losses in order to force a tie for the wild card. Elian Herrera hit a walkoff single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.

Angels 8, Mariners 4: The A’s win eliminates the Angels, so Mike Trout’s 4 for 5, double, triple and three RBI apparently means nothing now. At least that’s what people tell me.

Marlins 3, Mets 2: The Mets went up 2-0, but Giancarlo Stanton started the comeback with a homer and his mates completed it. Easy to forget in the hot mess that is the end of the Marlins season, but a 22 year-old just hit his 37th homer.

Blue Jays 6, Twins 5: In May, extra innings between teams like this is referred to as “free baseball.” On October 1, it’s referred to as “excessive.” Anthony Gose singled home the winning run in the 10th inning in front of the smallest Rogers Centre crowd of the season.

Astros 3, Cubs 0: Welcome to the 100-loss club for the first time since 1966, Chicago!

Brewers 5, Padres 3: Ryan Braun doubled and went 2 for 4. A couple of big games and I think it’s still possible for him to finish with an OPS over 1.000. Which would be handy for those who want to argue about how boned get was in the MVP voting this year.

Rockies 7, Diamondbacks 5: Even more free baseball. This one went to the 13th tied at three. Colorado scored four in the top of the 13th, Arizona scored two and that was that. The Rockies win ensures that they won’t lose 100. Which is something I guess.

Minor League Baseball teams sold over $70 million in merchandise in 2017

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Every so often here, we discuss the criminally low pay of Minor League Baseball players. Most of them make less than $7,500 a year, which includes the regular season as well as spring training, playoffs, and offseason training. The abysmal pay forces minor leaguers to eat unhealthy food, live in cramped quarters, and forego consistent, quality sleep, among other things.

What makes this situation worse is that Minor League Baseball is a huge money-maker for their parent teams in Major League Baseball. Josh Norris of Baseball America reported yesterday that Minor League Baseball teams sold $70.8 million in merchandise in 2017. That represented a 3.6 percent increase over the previous record set in 2016. This is just merchandise. Now think about concession and ticket sales.

Minor League Baseball COO Brian Earle said, “Minor League Baseball team names and logos continue to be among the most popular in all of professional sports, and our teams have made promoting their brand a priority for their respective organizations. The teams have done a tremendous job of using their team marks and logos to build an identity that is appealing to fans not just locally, but in some cases, globally as well.”

You may recall that Major League Baseball had been lobbying Congress to pass legislation exempting minor league players from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Doing so classified baseball players as seasonal workers, which means they are not entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay. That legislation passed earlier this year. Minor League Baseball generates profits hand over fist and it is now legally protected from having to share that with the labor that produced it.

Many points of divergence led us to this point, but the question is how do we change it? Minor leaguers are routinely taken advantage of because they don’t have a union. Compare the minors in baseball to the minors in hockey, where minor leaguers have a union. As SB Nation’s Marc Normandin pointed out last month, the minimum salary for American Hockey League players is $45,000 and the average salary is $118,000. They receive a playoff share of around $20,000, and receive health insurance that covers themselves as well as their families. Furthermore, the minor league hockey players’ per diem is $74, about three times as much as minor league baseball players’ per diem of $25.

Major League Baseball and its 30 teams have shown no inclination towards treating minor league players simply out of moral obligation or good will, so the minor leaguers need union coverage to force their conditions to improve. This could be as simple as the MLBPA expanding its coverage to the minor leagues because, after all, some minor leaguers do become major leaguers, right? Or the minor leaguers could themselves create a union. It’s easy to say, but tougher to do, which is why they still don’t have a union.

At any rate, every fan of baseball should be enraged when they read that Minor League Baseball keeps setting records year after year when it comes to selling hats and t-shirts, then refuses to share any of that wealth with the labor responsible for it. It’s morally reprehensible.